Monday, August 18, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Barbara Stanwyck

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Barbara Stanwyck - Stardates: Born July 16, 1907, Brooklyn, New York; died 1990. Star Sign: Cancer. Star Qualities: "Bruised velvet" voice, Roman nose, impeccable poise contrasted with emotional volatility. Star definition: "I have never worked with an actress who was more cooperative, less temperamental and a better workman, to use my term of highest compliment." -- Cecil B. DeMille. Galaxy of Characters: Lulu Smith in Forbidden, Lily Powers in Baby Face, Thelma Jordan in The File on Thelma Jordan, Mae Doyle in Clash by Night.

Instead of Stanwyck's more familiar work in the screwball and noir genres, TCM is favoring the rare treasures found in her early, "pre-code" period this year. And there is no finer example of that racy, bygone era then Baby Face. In fact, this film was one of the prime reasons the Production Code became so powerful. In it, Stanwyck plays the sultry siren Lily Powers, a dame from the wrong side of the tracks who, quite literally, sleeps her way to the top. Nothing too scandalous about that in this day and age, but remember that this well-crafted melodrama came out in 1933. (Watch the steamy trailer here.)

For more on Baby Face and Stanwyck's other "Pre-Code" films, see this superb overview on the subject at TCM's Movie Morlocks blog.

Baby Face airs tomorrow on TCM at 3:15 PM EST.

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